Saturday, October 30, 2010

More of our wonderful friends

Murph and I spent some time at the refuge today and had a great time.  We saw two tremendous redtails on the way in, flushed a buck and doe while hiking, saw herons, pelicans, ducks, grebes (pied-bill and Clark) and harrier hawks.  Oh and we flushed a pheasant - he was 5 feet from me so I lost a few years and Murph has his hackles up as it startled him also.  Murph is not a hunting dog - unless whatever it is shows up at the end of his nose!
First off, tho', we encountered this quail on a fence. I believe it is a Gambel quail, but find it difficult to distinguish from a California quail.  Whichever, it is a very beautiful bird!
Then on to the pelicans.  They were sitting out in a large pond, and the two birds on the left seemed to be playing a game of pushing each other off the island, then run around behind and force the other one off!  They were exceedingly cute and playful and these two pictures are just part of a neat sequence of activity. The one on the right on the small island never moved during all the activity other than to wave it's beak around!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Parental Protectiveness

Last spring, Mom and I were driving in the refuge and came upon two American Avocets with their baby. They were on the far left side of the road, which is wide enough to easily have two cars pass.

But when I slowly started to drive by them, the parents were not about to let that happen!
First, one came on my left side with his wings open - and he was right at the side of the truck!  I felt that if I continued on he would run into the truck.

So we cruised quietly along with them and the three of them walked down the road - no hurry at all.  The little one scampered along the side of the road, sometimes venturing into the first track, and then back to the side.
When it appeared that all three were far enough on the left side, I went to pull forward, again, quietly.  This time the parent came in front of the truck and I do believe it would have remained there if I had driven on! (this is through the front window and that is the hood of my truck).

So, we had fun just watching these guys, idling slowly along at an Avocet's pace, which isn't very fast when it is very young.  Short legs!  After a while they seemed to ignore us so I slowly idled past them and they ignored me.

What the difference was between them stopping me and ignoring me, I could not figure out.  Fascinating, aren't they, these wild beings that we share the earth with!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Staying young!

I believe there is nothing better to keep us young than to spend time with young kids and animals!  Carmen came over to visit yesterday afternoon, and we played for a couple of hours. She had her 'poof' wand (poof magic) and loved running in the yard with Fuzzy chasing after her.
The plums are a bit overripe for my taste, but she found a couple that she loved (hence the colored 'drool' on her face).  She is like a little fairy when she plays in the garden.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


A few weeks ago, St. Francis day came around and animals were blessed at the Cathedral during the morning worship service.  While I know animals are cute, the kids are even cuter!  Here's a couple of shots from the morning - Carmen and an unnamed young man.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Two moons

One rising and one setting - sure a tripod and remote release would make a clearer picture, but the moon moves pretty fast (or is it the clouds around it) and here we are. 

Sometime Diana finds it is very hard to do anything, and this is why.  I think it is a legitimate reason, don't you?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fuzzy Kitty

While we were in North Carolina, a friend came over and played with Fuzzy.  She captured these shots of his acrobatic prowess!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Homeward bound

Diana and I are flying home, using GoGo WiFi to stay occupied; nice to be able to work and play as you like at 36,000 ft.
I walked around the Smith house this morning saying goodbye to Jane and Stuart. Both are still very tangibly present for me in this place full of great memories. Truly an honor to have known and spent time with both of them.

Over yonder in a small town named Siler City, there is a hamburger place named Johnson's.  It was started in 1946 and is therefore the same age as me.  When I turned 50 they had big signs up and I have a picture of them.  I'm a little late for the 60th, but perhaps the 70th!!  They come in early, grind the meat and make everything themselves, then open for lunch until they have run out of food! Works.  If you are ever in Siler City at lunch time, come early! And no need to dress up - burgers and fries are served on wax paper.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hanging out

Diana and I are hanging out here in NC, providing whatever comfort and support we can to family and friends of Jane.  Drinking coffee, eating greek yogurt and sea salt potato chips - yummy.
Sojourning around the pond and elsewhere on their property I captured a few moments of beauty to share.
This wraith-like cloud suggests Jane was floating by taking a look at things as she passed.
I call the above two - Pond Views, as there are many ways to view this pond and it's attendant beauty.
Below is an HDR (5 shots) of R&C's house with the sun setting and clouds above.  Still needs some work but I like the clouds over the house.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hello Zona!

I visited Mom (without Murphy) just before leaving for North Carolina and Jane's funeral.  Mom was in great form, one I haven't experienced for a while. She was talkative, introducing me to several folks, and saying hello to everyone that came by.  She wanted to walk so we went around the inside of the facility twice, then outside in the sunshine.
She had had her hair done and looked wonderful in her red outfit.  When I asked if she had heard from her daughter Nancy, she said that Nancy had visited her a couple of days ago and they had gone shopping, but Nancy had gotten tired.  :-)  Mom enjoyed being out in the warm sun. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Goodbye, Miss Jane

We will miss you terribly, but are glad you are now in a pain and worry free place.  Thank you for all the contributions that you have made to our lives, not the least of which was the model of living life that you showed us - interested, engaging, challenging, willingness to try new things.  And for being the grammarian you were, so that we could use language well and meaningfully.

For Diana and I, you were our surrogate mother; someone who listened, questioned, advised when appropriate, gave hugs and smiles and lots of encouragement.  Since you had seen much more of life than us you were able to share your experiences and tie them to ours.

I know you disliked me taking your picture, but I/we wanted something of you for this time.
We love you!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fuzzy again

He's growing up, using the cat door to both come and go; spending time around the back yard and the related neighbor's yards; and generally acting as if the world is his oyster!!
A couple of days ago, I heard the chickens in our neighbors yard making a racket, and sure enough, he was in their pen!  They are both 3 times his size, but he had to explore.  Fortunately, he came when I called and escaped possible injury.
Sleeping, he is an angel.  Murphy and I came back from errands the other day and here was Fuzzy, sleeping in the middle of Murph's bed.  Obviously, not a care in the world, he didn't even look up as we came home. Wonderful innocence and joy!
This looks - to me - much like a painting. I had to shoot at a high ISO and in the process of noise removal and sharpening, the painting effect emerged.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Carolina Woods

One of the most inviting parts of staying with our North Carolina friends is the opportunity to spend time in the woods around their house and business. There are over 150 acres to roam, with ponds, meadows and various wooded areas.
The challenge with taking pictures of beauty such as above, is that there are so many possible distractions, that staying focused on what your subject is can be challenging.  With all the other details in the picture, one faces questions of how to bring the viewer's eye to the subject that you want them to see.  Yet there is much beauty to behold in the other details also - how much is too much and how much is not enough?  The artist's challenge - when to stop.
This scene has a sense of peacefulness about it, and I toned down the brightness in the surrounding vegetation and emphasized the sky reflected in the water - a bit of blue saturation added. There are many details around the water and reflection that I feel add to the overall picture - both the realism and the sense of being there.  You probably would do it somewhat differently and we would both be right!

Through the looking glass - once again.

This time we are going from East to West and the seat assignment and timing couldn't have been better. So different from the sunrise earlier in the week, and so beautiful moment by moment. Tack sharp was tough as the plane was bouncing, but truly, much about these is dreamlike and really doesn't need the sharpness a flower might. Wisps of clouds colored by the sun, the blue of the clouds in the shaded areas, all of it looking like you could just jump in and float through it! 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Skittish animals

Rick and Carey have three wild cats, two of which seem to becoming domesticated a bit.  The third one, Tortoise (so called because of the colors in her coat) remains outside the house and very tentative.

Across the pond, whitetail deer come to browse.  When I pulled in last night this buck decided to run just a bit, and then stop. This is a characteristic of deer that often gets them in trouble, but is so predictable that you can generally get a view of them.
This first shot I did using an ISO of 200 and a shutter speed of 0.4 sec.
I then upped the ISO to 3200 which gave me a shutter speed of 1/30 sec and waited for him to stop and turn, which he did.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Carolina in the morning!

We're staying at our friend's place on 80+ acres of wooded property with a pond in front of the house. Several white-tails have paraded around while we have been here, and a variety of different birds.  Here's a couple of photo's from this morning:  The kitty is named Mr. Boots and he is a wild cat that is slowly becoming domesticated.  He is very wary of us newcomers so he was sitting outside the sliding door to the patio this morning, watching us intently.

The bird I believe is a flycatcher, probably an Alder flycatcher - but if any of you have a different idea, please let me know.  He perched up on a willow tree by the pond and seems to have the characteristic head, beak and eyes of a flycatcher.

The pond grasses are hard to capture - and to be able to show what beauty I thought I saw in them.  Here's grasses and their reflections with a different take.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Through the looking glass!

I flew to Raleigh, North Carolina, this morning, leaving on a 6am flight to Dallas.  While early (up at 3:30am) I could not sleep on the way to Dallas and below is why!  Although I'm sure several cups of coffee assisted in the staying awake process.
These photos are all taken through the airplane window, and the colors are spectacular!  What a treat to be able to see these and share them with you.